To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to Prison Population Projections 2020 to 2026, England and Wales, published on 26 November 2020, Figure 1.1, how he plans to achieve and maintain headroom of 5500 prison places in (a) January, (b) February, (c) March, (d) April and (e) May 2021.
In March, HMPPS implemented a ‘compartmentalisation’ strategy to isolate the sick, shield the vulnerable and quarantine new arrivals. Using modelling from Public Health England, HMPPS estimated that creating a headroom across the prison estate of 5,500 (5,000 in the adult male estate) would allow all prisons to fully implement this strategy.
The required headroom has been achieved through a combination of reductions in operational capacity, new prison accommodation (which has enabled prisons to hold an increased number of prisoners in single cell accommodation), releases from prison, and reduced receptions into prison.
HMPPS will monitor actual and projected population growth carefully to ensure that compartmentalisation is maintained. The increased use of testing is expected to reduce the headroom necessary to deliver compartmentalisation, and options for increasing capacity if needed are reviewed on an ongoing basis.